"Using stories to explore the human condition"

From 2011 to 2014, I undertook doctoral research in Woodlane Village, an informal settlement (squatter camp) situated in a wealthy suburb in Pretoria, South Africa.

The resulting dissertation revolves around the narrative accounts of participants living in this temporary and transient community [See THESIS]. These stories are set against the backdrop of the larger social and historical forces that have shaped South Africa. They convey the nuanced and complex ways in which people make sense of home and belonging in a context shaped by dislocation, dispossession, violence and racial divides, and more recently by widening socio-economic disparities and mass migration.

While the stories are situated within Woodlane Village they speak to the larger experience of being human and the ways in which we create and recreate home and belonging. They speak of love and loss, of adaptation and resilience, and of the yearning to live in community with others despite the forces pulling us apart.

The result is a meditation on place, history, and identity — and the way our understandings of ourselves are constructed and refashioned through the stories we tell about our lives and our homes.